The New York City Department of Education has quietly rolled out a website with the results of COVID-19 testing at individual public schools as the latest round of school reopenings commenced this week.
The city's public school buildings shut down again and moved to remote learning in mid-November as COVID-19 rates steadily increased in the city. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new plan reopened 3K and elementary schools for in-person learning on Monday, followed by reopening schools for students with disabilities Thursday. Middle and high schools will remain on full-time remote learning for now.
The DOE testing site shows results from as recent as Monday.
“Mandatory in-school testing is part of the Department of Education’s comprehensive effort to keep school communities healthy and safe, and ensure our school buildings remain open. Find citywide and borough-wide testing data below, as well as information for specific schools,” the site said.
But understanding the data is not always straightforward -- for example, the entry for PS 47 in the Bronx showed a -1% change in percentage of test results available since the last round of testing.
The DOE did not respond to inquiries about the reliability of the testing information posted on the website.
Testing in schools has taken on increased importance in this latest phase of reopening schools, with beefed up testing protocols in place. Before schools closed last month, students and teachers at each school had to take part in a randomized testing program with 10-20% of a school’s population once a month, but not all students brought in consent forms and schools never enforced any consequences for not participating.
Now, all students returning to in-person learning must consent to testing, because the state requires that 20% of each school community be tested once a week to get a clearer sense of COVID-19 rates in schools. Consent forms must be signed and on file upon returning, and the DOE has vowed that blended learning students will be moved to full-time remote learning if they don’t submit their consent forms.